If you’ve ever been to the Peace Arch Golf Centre, you might have seen her working on her swing.
South Surrey golfer Lauren Kim has been busy practising her game before the 78th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Pebble Beach golf course in California, which starts Tuesday (July 4).
Speaking to Peace Arch News from the iconic seaside course, golf carts whizzing by in the background, Kim, 17, relayed that she had just finished a practice round.
“On the round today, I played with Minjee Lee, last year’s champion, which was quite exciting,” she said of the Australian golfer, who is currently ranked fifth in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). “I just got to hear her irons… it was very fun.”
The accomplished golfer also just graduated from Earl Marriott Secondary, with plans to attend the University of Texas this fall, where she’ll study business.
Having grown up in South Surrey with parents who own a driving range (temporarily closed due to maintenance issues) that was passed down by her grandparents and has been in the family for more than 30 years, Kim noted her parents never pushed her into playing golf. Her first set of clubs were plastic, but she proved pretty quickly that she needed a real set.
“I was always into sports. I tried volleyball and soccer and tennis, but I really enjoyed golf,” she said.
“I think it had to do with my grandparents also loving golf and my parents had the driving range, so I just naturally got into the game.”
She started golfing competitively at the age of 10, and loves being able to travel and meet – and play with –some professional golfers who have inspired her.
“I get to travel all around the world and play some amazing courses and meet some of my idols – I played with Danielle Kang yesterday,” she said of the LPGA’s 12-ranked American golfer.
Speaking of courses, it’s hard not to be wowed by the greens and scenery at Pebble Beach, she said.
“It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. Everyone here is very welcoming and the course is in amazing shape. The views are just wonderful,” Kim said.
Now playing in her second consecutive U.S. Women’s Open start, she credits her experience last year, where she was only three shots shy of making the 36-hole cut, as helping her prepare for the major event.
Part of that experience includes highly competitive pro players and plenty of fans watching from the sidelines and viewing galleries.
“It’s such a big stage you’re on. My mindset… is probably just keeping calm and doing what I always do, just staying in the zone and playing my game,” she said.
At Pebble Beach, it’s important to focus on your short game, Kim said.
“All parts of your game on this course are crucial – that you’re striking the ball well, you’re making your short putts when you need to, you’re hitting your chips close when you miss the green – but the rough is pretty thick here, so your chipping and your recovery game is going to have to be pretty solid so you can maintain your scores,” said Kim.
“I’d say it’s always the short game you want to really be on top of, no matter what course you’re at, so right now I’m focusing on my putting. I did a lot of rough and chips today on the course.”
To prepare, she focuses on practising as much as possible and also, scouting the course before competitive play.
Communication with her caddie is also key, she noted.
“I make sure my caddie and I are on the same page, that we’re looking at the same lines and picking the right yardages,” Kim said.
With the U.S. Girls Championship to play in Colorado after the Women’s U.S. Open, Kim, who turns 18 in August, will return home in mid-July, when she’ll have to start preparing to move to Texas for her first year at university.
“It’s just going to be packing and getting ready for school. It’s a new chapter,” Kim said.
“I’m really excited.”